Fiber optics, IP systems and belt packs all influence production intercoms
Manufacturers of production intercoms have been putting a greater focus on technology that provides users with enhanced integration and versatility.
“A system can only be as flexible as it is open to the various signals and formats with which it will need to interact,” said Nils Quak, communications manager for Riedel Communications in Wuppertal, Germany.
Production intercoms have gone from the familiar party-line concept of early telephone systems to a sophisticated matrix that can accept numerous inputs and send them to several receivers at once.
Riedel Communications’ MediorNet “What were once simple, in the best case, redundant systems, have evolved into versatile networks that also allow integration of various other signals such as data,” Quak said.
A major factor driving that development is audio-video bridging, which has led to the design of comprehensive real-time systems based on Ethernet infrastructures, according to Bob Myer, system design engineer for Human Circuit. “Think of matrix intercom systems like a communications router,” he said. “You are tying everybody into integrated communication so they can send information to each other.”
Most of the newer systems transmit over a twisted pair, Cat-5 cable that carries audio back and forth on two pairs, while the third pair carries control data. “So it is a Cat-5 cable between the matrix and user stations,” Myer said.
In addition, advances have also been made in wireless intercom communications within just a few years, according to Myer. “Where in the past, a lot of wireless equipment featured limited frequencies, they now do the scanning themselves to seek open transmission access,” he said. Scanning is made easier and more efficient with cellular technology that, along with a suitable headset interface and a 4G network, can turn a smartphone into a long distance production communication device.
Fiber optics also figures prominently in intercom manufacture because of the increased bandwidth it provides, as well as its ease of use. Riedel describes its MediorNet as the next step forward in fiber-based signal transport for it combines signal transport, routing and signal processing and conversion, as well as HD/3G video, audio, communications and data.
RTS’ ADAM OMNEO “The MediorNet has on-board video processing,” Quak said. “This means additional out-board equipment will become obsolete,” he added.
The MediorNet has a network bandwidth capacity of up to 152 GB enabling users to transport any signal over an integrated infrastructure, cutting installation and maintenance costs, according to Riedel. “Changes to the systems can be realized quickly by just adding additional devices or re-routing signals with a simple click of a mouse,” Quak said.
MediorNet signal processing enables frame synchronizer up/down/cross converter, sync generator/distributor or quad splits for significant savings on equipment, and a high return on investment, Riedel said.
The Riedel AVB (audio-video bridging) line offers easy integration of AVB networks into Riedel’s Artist Digital Matrix intercom systems. The Artist portfolio has a long history of use by government and broadcasters. It offers a redundant fiber-based matrix of 1024 x 1024 non-blocking ports.
System integration is a feature of Riedel products, according to Quak. “Any Riedel product line will feature extensive possibilities to integrate the client’s system,” he said.
Another intercom innovation is the development of Internet protocol-centric systems that enable long distance communication via the Web so that facilities in New York can talk to those in Los Angeles.
Among the companies producing such intercoms is RTS, part of the Bosch Group of companies, which makes the ADAM OMNEO interface cards that transform the ADAM’s matrix into an IP-based, AVB-compatible intercom network. Also, the ADAM has been made future proof by incorporating Open Control Architecture management systems with AVB media and IP transport, thereby ensuring continued interconnectivity with a growing number of devices, according to RTS.
Using any standard IP-based network, ADAM intercom stations can link to third-party devices via “trunking” – which provides network access to many clients by sharing a set of lines or frequencies instead of providing them individually—and which enables existing RTS ADAM stations to be networked over standard IP hardware to produce high quality, ultra-low-latency audio. “This makes RTS the leading IP open network solution for professional intercoms,” said Guy Low, Bosch Security Systems manager of public relations.
Clear-Com’s RS-701 In addition, the optional OMI ADAM Matrix card fits into the standard slots of the RTS ADAM or ADAM-M frames. The Matrix Card is available in configurations of up to 64 bi-directional ports that occur in increments of 16 ports on a single card, while software upgrades can expand the card from its base configuration of 16 ports, according to RTS. A fully configured single compact ADAM-M frame can support up to 256 OMNEO ports for a compact, single-frame solution for many system installs. The ADAM frame is ideal for larger systems without frame-to-frame linking because it supports 512 OMNEO ports, the company adds.
Clear-Com, which has many users—and fans—of its analog products, introduced the RS-701 belt pack, the latest addition to its “Party Line” products, and which is “backwards compatible,” according to Bob Boster, Clear-Com’s president.
“Probably its [the RS-701’s] primary advantage is that clients who have existing Clear-Com analog Party Line equipment can use this belt pack without having to replace their entire system,” Boster said.
In designing the RS-701, Clear-Com’s primary goal was to make the belt pack more robust and reliable. “Clients enjoyed the sound quality of the RS-601, but found it a little bit too frail for extended use in the real world,” Boster said. In addition, the construction of the unit was based on Clear-Com’s popular RS-500 series belt packs which have an ergonomic and strong enclosure.
During the test phase, the RS-701 was thrown off a three story building. “It bounced off the ground and survived,” Boster said. “It was also run over with a one-ton pick-up truck and it still worked afterward,” he said.
The RS-701 also features innovations that are focused on its use in the higher-volume levels and it combines high headroom with low-noise audio to deliver “crystal-clear sound,” according to Clear-Com. “We believe we made some serious improvements in the overall sound quality,” Boster said.
JK Audio’s Interloop All 700-series’ belt-pack switches are placed in convenient locations for ease of use, and the units are outfitted with recessed rotary-volume controls, as well as “Talk” and “Call” keys that are designed to prevent accidental activation. A concealed “dual in-line package” switch on the back of the belt pack provides the user with the capability to select audio and key options quickly, and that includes switching between electret or dynamic headset options, and setting a minimum on/ level for headphone input and microphone output. “Call” with talk operation and latch or non-latch keying are also available. And there is a “LED-off” mode for those occasions when a user needs complete darkness.
The JK Audio Interloop is an innovative device that uses Bluetooth technology, while connecting like any other belt pack, to provide a standard two wire party-line intercom with the ability to wirelessly connect to a number of devices. The Interloop features HD voice technology that allows 7 kHz wideband transmissions when used with compatible headsets, or with phones on conforming networks.
A rear-panel switch selects headset or phone connection, JK Audio said. The “Headset” mode enables a connection to a Bluetooth-enabled headphone, while the “Phone” mode allows connection to a wireless telephone or to a laptop or notebook for remote voice access using communications applications such as Skype. The Interloop is powered by the intercom system and uses less current than a typical belt pack, according to the company.